Stéphane dalle delivers floor barre workshops to our students

Stéphane Dalle delivers floor barre workshops to our students

At the School, we’re pleased to welcome a range of guest teachers to offer our students a variety of opportunities. It was a privilege to welcome Ballet Master Stéphane Dalle to Upper School to deliver workshops on floor barre work on 18 and 19 September. Stéphane is incredibly passionate about this technique and it was fascinating to gain his insights on the significance of floor barre.

Floor barre is a special technique developed by Boris Kniaseff that brings typical barre movements from a ballet class to the floor. Stéphane spoke to us about how it first developed:  

Floor barre takes the exercises that you would usually do standing at the barre and adapts them to the floor. They can be done on the back, stomach, and sometimes on the side. Boris Kniaseff developed this technique in 1954 when he wasn’t able to install a barre in his beautiful new apartment in Lausanne, and the centre barre didn’t exist yet.

To continue developing his technique, he shifted the movements from ballet class down to the floor, and it really worked. It helps with your coordination, strength and flow. There are so many techniques that a dancer can use, but Kniaseff discovered that floor barre is the most effective. Lots of methods can be useful, but they don’t support ballet technique in the way that floor barre does. All the details incorporated help to best form the classical dancer.

Stéphane has had an impressive performance career, dancing with companies such as the English National Ballet, Boston Ballet, Ballet Bejart Lausanne and Ballet Frankfuer. He discovered the floor barre technique during his time as a dancer and it changed his perspective:

I’ve always been very curious about everything. When I was a student, I did a lot of Pilates. I also love yoga. I have a lot of friends who are yoga teachers, and I really enjoy what they do. I’ve undertaken different classes to develop my muscles in the gym. Floor barre is different than anything I’ve tried.

I do not like to talk about the fact it gives you strength in your core, and you feel a difference in your muscles. Of course, when you move in any way, you feel that. Any technique will give you something back. But floor barre accompanies your ballet class in a unique way that helps to improve all these factors and more.

Now an expert in floor barre, Stéphane has introduced the Boris Kniaseff method to professional companies and students across the globe. He told us what he loves most about teaching:

I feel like I have a special gift with how I teach floor barre. I hope I don’t sound arrogant when I say that! But I am a pure classical teacher, and I love this style. To be a dancer, you’re not a human being anymore, you’re developing more than your human possibility, and this technique progresses this level of what you want to reach, the highest level of your dancing. That’s why I love teaching.

When I go to a ballet company, some directors will ask me to teach my exercises before class. I’ve taught with lots of companies, and they often ask me if I can come back. It’s great to see dancers enjoy this technique before they take class. It is a gift for me to teach that way.

It can be difficult to teach such an extensive principle in a few sessions but it was incredible to see what Stéphane achieved with our students in the short time he was at Upper School:

When I came, I had just two days with three different year groups. That was a very big challenge. I thought, how am I going to do that? The first day I had one hour and a half for each year, so I did the full first exercise, which is not even half of the class I normally teach. On the second day, I went on to do a combined version of the rest of the exercises. The first time that students try it, they need a few days to adapt to a new technique and for it to make them feel good.

Despite only being with us for a few days, Stéphane definitely left an impression on our students and we were so glad to hear how they benefited from his teaching:

After the second day, a student came to me and asked: where can I find this technique? Where can I continue with floor barre? I told them about my DVDs and video workshops that are available. They were excited by this which made me happy. Artistic Manager Jessica Clarke got in touch with me after my workshops and wrote a beautiful email, telling me that students were practising my floor barre before class. For me, this is the best compliment I could receive after coming to the School. It proves that they felt the difference after two sessions, and that makes me much happier than happy. The excitement of teaching this technique is that I see a much greater difference in students in comparison to other methods.

Finally, Stéphane had some excellent advice for our students:

One thing I love about the technique I teach is that you respect your body. Because you lay on your back, on your stomach, or sometimes on the side, and so you don’t use your gravity. You can actually use the position on the floor to over-exaggerate and listen to the capacity of your own body, your muscles, your skeleton, everything together.

In my teaching, I always say that you have your own body and the person beside you sitting on the floor has a different body, different capacity, and different talent. Be sure that you listen to your own quality, and don’t try to be somebody else. You have to develop your coordination, musicality, muscle work, and skills to give your maximum potential and you can’t do that if you are dishonest with yourself. The most important piece of advice I can give is to be true to your body and to yourself.  

Stéphane dalle delivers floor barre workshops to our students